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From JHawk's Beak: WWE House Show On-Site Report
Posted by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins on Mar 9, 2003, 20:14
From JHawk's Beak: On-Site from WWE's Youngstown house show (3/9/2003)
by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
I just got back from the Beeghly Center in Youngstown, Ohio (on the campus of Youngstown State University), where the SmackDown brand presented a house show as a part of the Road to WrestleMania. Now, some of you might be asking why I chose to go to this show rather than attend Raw live in Cleveland? Three reasons. One, Youngstown's closer to my house. Two, I was able to score second row ringside seats. And three, do you really think I'm paying $40 to see Raw live when I already have trouble sitting through it for free? I want my workrate!
Anyway, I arrive at the building and get into the line to get in at 3:52, and almost immediately the doors open for a 5pm show. There are only two possible reasons as to why they opened the doors early instead of late: Either it was a service to fans because it was frickin' cold out, or it was because the line was already backed up to the road. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, I say. (By the way, what the hell does that expression mean? If anybody knows, drop me a line.) Anyway, into the arena I go, and I grab my Los Guerreros "Cheat to Win" T-shirt. Which, sadly, I had to point out to the guy working the souvenir stand because he had absolutely no clue where it was.
Now, I'm not sure which part of this paragraph is sadder. The fact that some people in the crowd said that they would have gone to Cleveland for Raw tomorrow had they realized it was there, or that some people think that Raw is the show with more talent. But yes, I actually heard both of those comments from various people in the crowd.
Tony Chimmel comes out right at 5:00 (the scheduled start time) and introduces us to two local DJs, who draw the winner of a contest to go backstage at intermission. At least it gets people to their seats before the matches start. Chimmel then tells us that Stephanie McMahon is proud to return to Youngstown (then why doesn't she come out and tell us that? Oh yeah! She's not there!). But before we get the "no laser pens" speech, out comes Your God and Mine Paul E. Heyman (w/neck brace). Despite being F5'd by Brock Lesnar at SmackDown!, he's booked in a no DQ handicap match tonight, so he's going to do what a real man would do...sue Brock Lesnar. That brings out Brock Lesnar to an absolutely incredible pop, and he eyes Heyman down. The Too Damn Big Show attacks from behind, leading us to our opener:
No Disqualification Handicap Match: Your God and Mine Paul E. Heyman and The Too Damn Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
Chimmel can't find the bell (and he's looked everywhere under the ring at this point). Some basic brawling on the floor early. Brock sends Heyman running to the locker room about a minute in, and we basically get Show-Lesnar one-on-one from that point. About on par with their Survivor Series and Royal Rumble matches, as Brock kicks out of the Choke Slam, takes Show down with the F5, and pins Show at 8:38 (give or take a few seconds due to there being no opening bell). I question why you put a guy as over as Brock out there to open, particularly just days away from his apparent SmackDown title victory, but then again, I'm not the booker. Good for a big man match, decent opener.
One fall for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Matt Hardy v. 1.0 (champion--w/#1 MFer Shannon Moore) vs. Billy Kidman
Shocker of the night: Matt Hardy got the babyface reaction for this one. We're talking almostbutnotquite Brock Lesnar levels here. That huge. This was their basic match, with Kidman setting up for the Shooting Star Press, but Moore preventing it, and Hardy getting the pin off of the Twist of Fate at 8:15. Not quite as good as their No Way Out match, but still pretty good.
One fall: Nobody Betta Than Kanyon vs. Nathan Jones
Neither guy got much of a reaction. Kanyon made Jones look really good by bumping and selling like hell. The highlight of this match was some little kid -- maybe seven or eight years old -- telling Kanyon, "Kick him in the balls!" This had the security guard laughing his ass off. Jones wins by submission with the torture rack at 7:47. Kanyon's bumping and selling save this one from being a DUD, but it wasn't good, and the crowd reacted as such...they didn't.
One fall: John Cena vs. Rhyno
Cena comes out and raps, insulting Youngstown. Bad move, because anybody who lives anywhere near Youngstown already thinks it's a complete shithole. Insulting the university did get some boos. Out comes Rhyno, who does his own rapping. "You might cut an album and have a number one hit/But here in Ohio, you're nothing but a pile of shit." Rhyno was over huge throughout this one. Slow match, as Cena's offense consisted mostly of reverse chinlocks. Rhyno gets the pin with the Gore at 6:23. Too many chinlocks, making it my pick for worst match of the night.
One fall: Jamie By God Noble vs. Rey Misterio Jr.
Everybody loves Rey, but little kids especially. Before the match, Mysterio brings in a young fan who is dressed as Rey Rey, complete with funky pants and mask. The kid actually flips into the ring through the ropes (!). They do some posing. It's fan friendly, give them credit for that. The match itself was fantastic, and here's why I like cruiserweight matches a lot more than big man matches. You can pretty much call the spots yourself when you're watching the heavyweights. With the cruisers, you never know what's coming next! The end comes when Rey hits the 619, but Noble avoids the West Coast Pop. Noble grabs Rey, who turns whatever Noble's trying into a sunset flip power bomb for the pin at 10:31. Postmatch, Rey invites the same kid in, who taunts Noble while he's still down on the mat.
We return with action after 15 minutes. Not 30 like usual. Fifteen minutes.
One fall for the WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Angle (champions) vs. Los Guerreros
Right before this match, the same little kid from the Kanyon match says that the guy behind me "looks like Steven Richards", which leads to his friends teasing him the entire night. Team Angle comes out to "You suck" chants, and Shelton Benjamin actually looks around the arena with a confused look on his face while saying "What the fuck?" The Guerreros come to the ring to a version of the theme music for those skits they do, and for the love of God, please please please PLEASE stick with Latino Heat or the old Latino World Order theme. HUGE chants for Eddy throughout this one, and even Eddy didn't seem to believe the reaction he got. This was the match of the night in my opinion, as there was some great mat wrestling mixed in with the signature spots, and Chavo does a great job playing Ricky Morton. The usual finish here: Chavo has Charlie Haas pinned after a tornado DDT, but he's not the legal man, so there's no count. Eddy goes up for the frog splash, but Benjamin tosses the belt into Haas and grabs Eddy's foot. Eddy breaks free, but Haas gets the belt shot and the pin at 14:51. Postmatch, there's another HUGE Eddy chant, and Eddy is practically begging for people to chant for Chavo. I feel bad for Chavo, since he did do most of the work. My biggest gripe about this one: The referee made no attempt to get Chavo out of the ring until he went for the cover. Make the effort or don't do the finish.
One fall: Nidia vs. Torrie Wilson
Because it's not a WWE show without a T & A match. The match itself was uneventful until the usual catfight, as the ladies roll on top of referee Brian Hebner, who then goes to the second rope and celebrates like he's Kurt Angle winning the Olympic gold medal. Other than that, not much of note. Jamie Noble comes out for the run-in, but it backfires, leading to Torrie pinning Nidia with a roll up at 5:51. Postmatch, Noble and Nidia double team Torrie, which brings Rey Jr. out. Torrie eventually has Nidia set up for the bronco buster, but Noble pulls Nidia to safety...then asks for the bronco buster himself. Of course, Rey steps in and Noble hightails it. So Rey asks for one. Then Brian Hebner. Then Tony Chimmel. Torrie teases doing one to Rey, then decides against it...but asks for Rey to give her one. Rey doesn't do it, and they wind up leaving. Worst match of the night as far as wrestling went, but the postmatch stuff was very entertaining.
The ring empties for the main event. Tony Chimmel tells the referee "I was begging", then thanks us for beiing there, because without us, this wouldn't be possible.
Main Event: A-Train vs. Chris BeNOIT
The good news: Chris Benoit is main eventing. The bad news: A-Train is main eventing. I don't hate A-Train, but him being anywhere near the main event is a bit of a stretch. Pretty much a standard TV match here. The referee goes down during the rolling German sequence. Benoit hits the Swan Dive Headbutt, but there's no referee to count. The Stevie Richards lookalike is told "Run in there and superkick somebody." Heh. Benoit goes to check on the referee, but A-Train takes him down with the Baldo Bomb or Derailer or whatever it's called this week for 2. A-Train goes for another move, but Benoit slips into the Crippler Crossface for the submission win at 6:50. Only slightly better than Rhyno-Cena, but Benoit was hugely over! Somebody put this man over the top NOW!
On the way out of the building, some jackass nearly kills about 300 people walking to their cars because he has to drive about 80mph in the parking lot. Moron!
Overall, while not necessarily a wrestling clinic of a show, a very entertaining 2 1/4 hours of wrestling. Outside of Kanyon-Jones, this crowd was super hot, and most of the wrestlers appeared to be having fun out there as well, which makes the show that much better. I'd say the crowd was about the same as it was the last time they were in Youngstown, but they were much more up for this one. And with Edge and Angle both absent despite being heavily advertised (although they shouldn't have been there in their condition. I blame that on poor marketing), I have to admit I'm a bit surprised.
Now if only Raw could get the hint.
Let me know what you think, America (and Canada and Britain and anywhere else where you might be reading this.